Semana Santa

Few municipalities will remain “dry” this Easter

Semana Santa, or Holy Week, is here.

A peak time to vacation in Costa Rica, public employees and schools are off all week, and the majority of other businesses close their doors from Thursday until Sunday. City streets will be all but deserted as Ticos and foreigners flock to the coasts. This year, Juan Santamaría Day (April 11) falls during Holy Week as well, so it’s expected even more people will take advantage of the vacation time.

Considered one of the most important holidays on the Catholic calendar, some municipalities enforce “Ley Seca” (dry law) in honor of Semana Santa. As of Wednesday evening, 17 of Costa Rica’s 81 cantons have officially confirmed they will prohibit the sale of alcohol during Holy Week. The restriction applies on Holy Thursday and Good Friday, when supermarkets, pulperias, liquor stores, bars, restaurants, and any other businesses licensed to sell liquor, cannot for the two days.

Business owners who disobey these municipal restrictions can face up to ₡4.2 million in fines (about $7,500).  

Here is a list of cantons that have confirmed they will enforce the dry law in 2017:

In San José: Goicoechea, León Cortés, Puriscal, Tarrazú, Dota, Vásquez de Coronado.

In Heredia: Central, Belén, San Isidro, Flores, Santa Bárbara.

In Cartago: Central, El Guarco, Paraíso, Turrialba.

In Puntarenas: Esparza, Corredores.

The enforcement of Ley Seca on national holidays used to be mandatory across the country, but in 2012 amendments were made which granted each municipality the power to decide whether or not they would enforce the ban.

Holy Week is one of the busiest times to visit Costa Rica. The weather is particularly hot and large crowds will take over the most popular beaches. Prices for hotels and transportation often goes up as well. To avoid the crowds but still enjoy salty waters, the Caribbean beaches are a better option. Some beaches on the Pacific Coast may also be less crowded: Esterillos, Uvita, and Ballena, or head to remote areas of the South Pacific, where beautiful beaches like Matapalo or Zancudo can be found.

If the hot sun isn’t for you, try enjoying the time off in one of Costa Rica’s amazing mountain destinations, where the weather is fresh and cool.

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